Trending Topics

Study: Most Americans Think Blacks Can’t Get Ahead Because of Their Own Failures

black men unemployment lineAre African-Americans still held back by racial discrimination—or are African-Americans responsible for their own failures to get ahead?

That is a question that hovers over much of the current debate about race in America and it’s one that the Pew Research Center posed to a wide swath of Americans in its latest study on politics and ideology.

Not surprisingly, how Americans answered that question depended on where they fell on the political spectrum. Liberals were more likely to agree that discrimination was still holding back African-Americans while conservatives overwhelmingly said it was not.

But it was with those whose identification wasn’t strictly liberal or conservative that things got interesting. The Pew Research Center divided the nation into seven political ideologies and found that among two typically Democratic-voting groups, there was widespread agreement that Blacks who can’t get ahead are mostly responsible for their own condition.

With a group Pew called the Democratic-leaning Next Generation Left, consisting of affluent young people who are liberal on most social issues but have reservations about social programs, 68 percent said Blacks are mostly responsible for their own condition.

Among the Hard-Pressed Skeptics, who are struggling financially and resentful of government and business though they support more generous government support for the poor and needy, 63 percent say that Blacks who can’t get ahead are mostly responsible for their own condition. In addition, 57 percent of the Faith and Family Left (the most racially diverse group, 30 percent of whom are Black) also say that Blacks who can’t get ahead are mostly responsible for their own condition.

Overall, 63 percent of those polled say “Blacks who can’t get ahead are mostly responsible for their own condition” while 27 percent say “racial discrimination is the main reason why many Black people can’t get ahead these days.”

The Pew study also found view on poverty and the poor also broke up along predictable ideological lines—86 percent of Steadfast Conservatives, 77 percent of Business Conservatives and 81 percent of Republican-leaning Young Outsiders say poor people have it easy. By contrast, 86 percent of Solid Liberals and 71 percent of Hard-Pressed Skeptics think the poor have hard lives and that benefits don’t go far enough to help them live decently.

There was a surprisingly positive view of immigrants across the ideological spectrum, with 57 percent of all participants agreeing that immigrants today strengthen rather than burden the country, while 35 percent disagreed. In addition, by a similar 59 to 35 percent margin, most believe that the growing number of newcomers strengthens society rather than threatens traditions.

On, writer Max Fisher linked the findings of the study to the brilliant case Ta-Nehisi Coates made for reparations in The Atlantic magazine.

Fisher points out that “not only does discrimination continue today, but the consequences of two centuries of slavery and one century of explicit white supremacy still directly impact and hold back Black families.”

He adds this excerpt from Coates’ piece:

The lives of black Americans are better than they were half a century ago. The humiliation of Whites Only signs are gone. Rates of black poverty have decreased. Black teen-pregnancy rates are at record lows-and the gap between black and white teen-pregnancy rates has shrunk significantly. But such progress rests on a shaky foundation, and fault lines are everywhere. The income gap between black and white households is roughly the same today as it was in 1970. Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist at New York University, studied children born from 1955 through 1970 and found that 4 percent of whites and 62 percent of blacks across America had been raised in poor neighborhoods. A generation later, the same study showed, virtually nothing had changed. And whereas whites born into affluent neighborhoods tended to remain in affluent neighborhoods, blacks tended to fall out of them.

This is not surprising. Black families, regardless of income, are significantly less wealthy than white families. The Pew Research Center estimates that white households are worth roughly 20 times as much as black households, and that whereas only 15 percent of whites have zero or negative wealth, more than a third of blacks do. Effectively, the black family in America is working without a safety net. When financial calamity strikes-a medical emergency, divorce, job loss-the fall is precipitous.

And just as black families of all incomes remain handicapped by a lack of wealth, so too do they remain handicapped by their restricted choice of neighborhood. Black people with upper-middle-class incomes do not generally live in upper-middle-class neighborhoods. Sharkey’s research shows that black families making $100,000 typically live in the kinds of neighborhoods inhabited by white families making $30,000. “Blacks and whites inhabit such different neighborhoods,” Sharkey writes, “that it is not possible to compare the economic outcomes of black and white children.”





What people are saying

37 thoughts on “Study: Most Americans Think Blacks Can’t Get Ahead Because of Their Own Failures

  1. This is racist in itself and, It would be totally true if white supremacy didn't exist but, it does so you're saying to the Black man that just got pulled over by a white cop for absolutely nothing but, (dwb) that its his fault? Like people say Trevon Martin was responsible for his own death!?

  2. Exactly- ridiculous !!!

  3. Kevin M Easley says:

    Not surprising. Most Americans are uninformed in matters of race and don't understand how past racism is still affecting Black people to this day as well as the new forms of covert racism. But than again most Americans are uninformed in everything else too

  4. Anonymous says:

    To me the survey/study in and of itself is racist, and perpetuates stereotypes. How is it beneficial to a community to suggest that an entire group is failing by asking an "open" question? The question in and of itself implies that African Americans are below. The fact of the matter is more and more African Americans are attending college, starting businesses, the crime right continues to drop, etc. As a society we need to stop looking at anything to perpetuate struggle and talk about the good. There is plenty of good, but even some black activists rarely highlight it

  5. Sundiata Keita says:

    it is very important that you all read up on Cesare Lombroso, Francis Galton, Charles Darwin, and watch Irritated Genie's Poltergeist. After slavery, the first 3 cmae up with fake scientific theories to make black people look "less than" in the eyes of America. if you watch "Irritated Genie's Poltergeist" you will see how the Jews have used the media to control the world's perception of Black America.

  6. Russell Lawrence Benford says:

    This folks need to watch Hidden Colors.

  7. Henry Nwobi says:

    This study is largely true, BUT we can't ignore the systematic discrimination.

  8. Henry Nwobi says:

    @Gerald, please make a better point because right now your embarrassing yourself

  9. Henry Nwobi So far you're the only one whose replied to me that way so you must explain to me how i am embarrassing myself. You're saying that what i'm saying isn't valid?

  10. Shawn Mc says:

    Gerald R Woodard III that has nothing to do with a group progressing. to try and find issues where a black person was assaulted by a white person doesn't prove anything about progression.
    there is white racism, chinese racism, arab racism and so on, no one is going to be your buddy so do you dig a hole and hide ? there are options, what do people that come to this country do when they want to get ahead ?

  11. Shawn Mc says:

    wil that movie make you feel better about yourself or make you feel like you are not capable of progressing because the white man is too powerful?
    those movies are there to give you excuses and make the director rich, its a play on your emotions and racist views

  12. Shawn Mc says:

    thats the problem; many blacks feel there is no option but society say there are options for success

  13. Shawn Mc says:

    well its official; no one feels sorry for you, time to do what other nationalities do when they come here, work hard, dont have kids out of wedlock, dont do crime, finish school and get a skill that's needed.

  14. Russell Lawrence Benford says:

    Shawn Mc i know you are commenting from a position of not seeing them. no it gives an explanation as to how things came to be as they are and the motivation and encouragement to change your thinking to change your circumstances. it is not about absolving or abdicating personal responsibility which most negroes like you try to purport that "blaming the white man for your circumstances" . actually it shows how we are and have been capable of progressing because of look at what our people have done and continue to do in the midst of the most arduous conditions. not that the white man is too powerful but rather the power that lies within us cause we still overcome and achieve. furthermore, everything you consume that isnt by your own hands makes someone else rich so get off that. and black people cannot be racist as race is a social construct rooted in the system of white supremacy,

  15. Derek Hall says:

    Shawn Mc I believe my brother is implying just what the article states, institutional racism has made it hard for black folks to get ahead. A classic example of blaming the victim. "we gave the black man his freedom why can't he come up?" forgetting that they had a 400 hundred year head start in every aspect of socioeconomic progression. How can we bridge an income gap when we worked for free for hundreds of years to build the wealth they have. how can we be on par in school when only in the last 50 years you've given us equal educational opportunity. With stats like that it doesn't surprise me that we are behind in areas. I think that sometimes we forget that it was just about 50 years ago that the law…not the white man) but the law said we have to be equal. I know you arent too naive to think that at that instant all white folks changed their views and opened up the world to minorities. There are still tens of millions of white americans still alive from that era with the same views and the same positions in business, politics, etc.

  16. Shawn Mc You forgot not paying any taxes for the first 5 year! Thats one hell of a hand for a new comer!

  17. One's wealth should correlate to one's income but it does not. Ever read, "The Millionaire Next Door", or "Rich Dad, Poor Dad"? If you take your high income and buy a bunch of depreciating assets with debt, you will have a negative to low net worth (wealth), than if you live conservatively and save and invest wisely. If high income earners are not wealthy, or approaching it, that is their fault. The steps are in books, or for hire from personal financial planners. Now, on the other hand, there remains pervasive discrimination, particularly in the employment arena. We are still often the last hired and first fired. We are still often redlined when it comes to small business loans. But, with education comes better strategies for coping. Some of us get it, many of us don't. We have major weaknesses in our culture that make it easy to oppress us. I can start with the fact that we form families outside of marriage, which is virtually an automatic ticket to poverty.

  18. Shawn Mc says:

    Derek Hall I'm not blaming the victim but i will hold the victim responsible when opportunities are present and aren't taken advantage of.
    first off WE didnt work for free our ancestors did and they created opportunities we have today.
    i dont understand your statement about unequal education opportunities, whose forcing you to not go to school ?, information is on the internet, books are free to read.
    we are behind because we have black people that still depend on leaders and government for help in their lives, black leadership who dont have a problem exploiting their own people for monetary gain.
    your focus on white folks is troubling considering most white folks arent wasnt any sleep thinking about you. you think its still 1960 and your approach to progression hasn't changed from that era.

    do me a favor and answer this question; how did you beat past the impossible odds of racism to become successful ?
    Check the stats on first generation africans success in this country and tell me about racism

  19. Farntella Graham says:

    true my a$$. it is well documented that the american government has no intention of satisfying our grievances. it is documented that after they incite war between the races, they will implement the final solution just like they did in germany, except this time, it will be Black people.

  20. Farntella Graham says:

    round us up just like white people have a history of doing.

  21. Farntella Graham says:

    and the miseducation is deliberate. america used to have the finest public education in the world. education was one of the first things they dismantled and increased the cost of higher education so the graduates are in debt but no job.

  22. Farntella Graham says:

    Eagle Eye Dimensions I do not talk as a fool. I talk as a person who knows the truth and history. I have no master. I think for myself. how limited is my thinking when there is precedence? these issues have already been visited and judged. your current master is the deceiver, liar and thief of the world whose thinking in evil is un

  23. Farntella Graham says:

    there is also basic financial literacy that american people lack. this is where other "developing" countries have it over us. we were taught to get a good job working for somebody else. the emphasis is not on self-sufficiency and working for yourself. you are encouraged to get in line to make others rich off your labor. the capitalist system only works for the capitalist not you. laws were put in place to control them until presidents like the actor reagan and the redneck clinton let the dogs out of the cage.

  24. Shawn Mc I think you are mistaking racial prejudice in success with institutional racism like failing schools, poverty, and housing discrimination which can be explained through Redlining. This is above plain white racism.

  25. Shawn Mc I think you are mistaking racial prejudice in success with institutional racism like failing schools, poverty, and housing discrimination which can be explained through Redlining. This is above plain white racism.

  26. Shawn Mc says:

    Bethsaida Romelus "failing schools is institutional racism"
    thats a pretty generic statement considering each school failures should be analyzed separately, how about inept or corrupt leadership, teachers not being held accountable over the kids performance and parents who are not enforcing the value of education.
    i guess we can account everything to institutional racism, no need to do anything because the white man is too powerful …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  27. Shawn Mc says:

    Bethsaida Romelus there will never be a perfect utopian society , there is over 7 billion people on this earth and there will always be a fraction that don't like you, the magic pill is adapt to your surroundings
    not to be too personal but how do you personally overcome institutional racism ?

  28. Shawn Mc says:

    Bethsaida Romelus you never answered my question, i didn't ask how do you, i asked how did you personally overcome institutional racism.

    (racial segregation, redlining, white flight)
    did you forget about black flight or was it deliberate ?

    the elephant in the room (reparations), if your waiting for reparations i guess il hear from you in the next 10 years with the same problems.
    how can you move forward by looking back , you do know everyone has already started looking to the future while your still trying to get answers by looking backwards,
    its unfortunate you believe your liberation will only come if white people undo what they did to your ancestors, i hate to tell you but there will be no special treatment to rectify any past transgressions, the great society was in the late 60's where millions was placed in the ghettos and it was the worse decision yet.

    what would you do personally if you don't receive reparations ?

  29. Shawn Mc Institutional racism can not be put on black people as individuals but as a whole race. It is not people not liking me for being black, it's creating circumstances and taking power away from people who are black. EX: laws, policies, etc.

    In my state, funding is being taken away from schools and put into prions creating the school-to prison-pipeline that is taking advantage of troubled youth. Our detention center is having an over representation of black kids and many are thinking it has to be over punishment in classes by teachers. <–Institutional racism.

    This is a problem because our state have been overly criminalize the behaviors of minorities for decades. This matters to me because my own brother almost fell through the cracks until a representative proved that over punishment should not be given to young kids.

    If you meant by black flight as blacks leaving lower income blacks than yes I forgot that. That was a problem too because the underclass was left behind. I probably misused the word reparations (I'm sorry for that) but I never said I was asking for better treatments or anything from whites. I said blacks should fight for more racial and economic equality in better social programs, education, and resources for a future generation. This can help release some struggles from poverty.

    I have never said that liberation comes from whites. I believe the opposite. They come from blacks working hard to create their own system to help each other. Me looking back is how I personally understand public policy.

  30. Shawn Mc says:

    Bethsaida Romelus "said blacks should fight for more racial and economic equality in better social programs, education, and resources for a future generation"

    whats the adequate amount of resources you need for future generations ?
    was it close to LBJ great society act programs

  31. Shawn Mc I don't understand why you put the l.a. riots there because one of the reasons the riots happened beside police brutality is racial tension over economic resources. I know that the city has trouble fixing some parts of the place.

  32. Shawn Mc says:

    Bethsaida Romelus i put it there because at the end of the LA riots there was a program called rebuild LA where money was being sent on job programs and restructuring the city, well nothing significant and long lasting came about from all that money but corruption,confusing, division and greed.

    a similar situation occurred when N.O. had the flood, of course their mayor was indited on a plethora of charges.
    sometimes if not all the time money and programs isn't the answer and thats backed up by history, true black liberation and progression with occur when each individual become responsible for their own life, stop making excuses ,take advantage of every opportunity reachable and start dreaming again.
    dependency on government is not needed in this day and age

  33. Shawn Mc says:

    Bethsaida Romelus so the riots occurred because of racial tension over economic resources, i think your generalizing everyone in the riots as some type of freedom fighters, well freedom fighters dont burn down their own community,

    dont overcomplicate a riot, some are there to protest for different causes and some are there to cause chaos, the ending result is a black community that never recovered and is now significantly different,

    are you seeing a pattern here, when black destroy their community its never repaired ever, there is still communities in chicago and detroit that shows the remnants of the 60's riot.

  34. Shawn Mc The LA riots consisted of Latinos, Blacks, and some poor Asians. LA was not solely a black community. The 60's riots had to do with the frustration of the civil right's movement and the death of MLK. Also the riots can not compare to a natural disaster that hit New Orleans.

    And when was I making excuses? I have always taken personal responsibility.

  35. Shawn Mc says:

    Bethsaida Romelus

    why would poor asians join a riot when it was the asian store owners banding together to protect their stores from being destroyed.
    latino groups never justified the riot, actually a latino spokes person stated and im paraphrasing " the latin involvement in the riots was due to opportunities for looting, latino joined days after the rioting begin and that was to loot items.

    you justify a riot by the cause and i denounce a riot because of the after effect
    this is going no where, we have 2 different ideologies, good luck on your reparations

  36. Shawn Mc Wait, when did I say rioting was okay?You initially posted an article about the LA riots. I tried to get to the root problems so riots wont happen again. Black leaders did denounce the riots and Asians were pissed off that the cops didn't protect their stores.

Leave a Reply

Back to top